Friday, February 26, 2010

Lenten Soup Suppers: Weeks 1 & 2

I was so wrapped up in ballet last week, I forgot to post our Lenten soup and bread suppers last week. Last year we began a new tradition of making a different vegetarian soup and homemade bread each Friday of Lent. Vegetarian soups are extremely inexpensive and usually quite simple, just perfect for Lent. We tried some wonderful recipes from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups and The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking.

This year I decided we should try some of the Lenten recipes from A Continual Feast. We've tried several of the recipes from this book throughout the liturgical year, and have yet to be disappointed. This book is a wonderful resource for observing everything from Lent to Advent, from Christmas to Easter, from Baptisms to The Feast of Pentecost. I highly recommend this book for any Catholic family.

For the first Friday of Lent, I made Greek Bean Soup from A Continual Feast and Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Bread from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking. We thought both were absolutely wonderful. The Greek bean soup had so much flavor and it did not even call for a broth of any kind. It was incredibly simple and very easy to make. We will definitely make it again. The bread was also very good and hearty. Best of all, it made three loaves and the children were able to have the leftovers for breakfast this week.

Tonight we'll be having Cuban Black Bean Soup from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, and a Swedish Rye Bread from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking. I'll post next week my thoughts on these two new recipes.

Hope you have having a holy and blessed Lent!
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Small Successes: Rock on Mom!

Small Successes for February 25, 2010

1) My mother-in-law is coming today. We are all so excited to see her, and I know I really do not have to clean house for her. I know she would never look down her nose at my housekeeping. She is incredibly generous and helpful and loving. I just can't help myself. The wood floors, well, they look spectacular. That's all I can say.

2) I was finally able to get in a couple runs this week. I haven't been able to run because of all the snow we had here. They weren't awesome runs, but they were pretty good and I know as the weather gets warmer and more predictable, and the days grow longer, I'll be able to run more frequently and be able to set some new running goals. Hurry up, spring! I'm ready to run.

3) Karate Kid has had her license since the end of January, but once again, due to the copious amounts of snow, she has not been able to do much driving. On Monday night she made her first outing without an adult in the car, and I did not freak out or stress too much. Will I ever get to the point where I won't worry so much about my babies? Not likely.

Click on over to Faith & Family Live and leave your link with your Small Successes for the week.
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I know I'm a bit overdue with our mid-year progress report. I will say, things are progressing :)

Lil' Wingnut: Although not officially in school, we were suddenly surprised the little guy has learned to read . . . on his own. I know! He's only three! As of last night he has completed the first set of "Bob Books" and when finished posting here, I'll be ordering the next two sets. I am bit terrified at the prospect of having somewhat of a prodigy child, but what can we do?

Special K: Our big goal for our second grader this year was independence. She is there! Hooray! She is reading independently and able to complete most of her work without my sitting right next to her. She's a smarty and she's pretty proud of herself. She should be.

Skoshi A: This fifth grader is working hard and doing a great job. Her spelling is improving and she's expressing herself in writing much more clearly. Skoshi A just needs to slow down a tad and read her instructions thoroughly before diving into her work. If she did just that one thing, she'd be absolutely golden!

Oleander: This girl has a memory like a steel trap. She need only see or read something once before it's committed to memory. Most of her school work comes easily to her, which is why she has been tasked with material well beyond her grade. I've been mulling the idea of bouncing her straight to 9th grade next year, but I'm not super keen on graduating my kiddos early. I don't relish the idea of my babies leaving for college and the longer I can keep them home with me, the better. Is that selfish? Like Skoshi, Oleander needs to improve upon reading instructions thoroughly and being more meticulous, especially in her math work.

Stat Boy: Our 9th grader is our most reluctant home schooler. He's a very social boy and staying home with all four sisters and one preschool aged brother has taken a toll on him. Academically, he is really doing very well. He may not even realize that he has straight A's for his grades. I don't think grades are a motivator for him. I'm doing my best to be understanding and to not nag at him constantly, while setting achievable goals for him. He has so much potential, I just pray a deeper desire to acquire knowledge one day catches up to his abilities.

Karate Kid: I thank God each and every day for this child. She has set the bar pretty high for her siblings, but she has also set a wonderful example for them to follow. She is an early riser, a self starter, and a hard worker. Her grades and test scores reflect her own high standards for herself. Colleges are sending info by the boatload. I can't believe we are that close to having a child in college! She's an amazing girl and remarkable student. I am so excited to see what the world has in store for her. We could not be prouder parents.

As far as the materials we chose for the year, I am well satisfied and have had to do only a couple tweaks here and there. If you are interested in what we are using, your can read about our curriculum here, here, and here.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Prima Ballerina

From the very first moment Oleander stepped up to the barre, we knew this was the "sport" for her. She has really flourished in ballet and will be taking her Grade III exam on her 13th birthday next week.

Oleander in tendue en derriere. Oleander has a beautiful point and stretch in her foot.

In releve on pointe.

She didn't like many of the photos I picked out of her actually dancing. Ballerinas are funny like that. She did like these three of her putting on her pointe shoes. This one is my favorite.

Putting on pointe shoes is quite a process. She's getting better and quicker each time.

All ready for pointe work at the barre, along with a nice cheesy grin.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Queen Monkey Ballerina

Skoshi A was the second of our three ballerinas for parent's observation week. It's more difficult to get clear photos of the two older dancers, as their classes move much more quickly. Skoshi A is improving leaps and bounds and recently passed her Grade II Cecchetti exam.

Here is my attempt at artsy photography with Skoshi A in a tendue at the barre in black and white.

Here she is, with a rare serene expression, standing in 5th position awaiting her music.

I've noticed Skoshi A has inherited my lip and cheek chew when she is concentrating during ballet. I have dozens of photos of her either biting her lip. . .

. . . or chewing on her cheek.

I love this photo of her doing a chasse temps leve. It was one of the only "action" shots that turned out halfway decent.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Sleepy, Cheesy, Dramatic, Pirate, Ballerina

It was parent's observation week in ballet. I remembered my camera this time and boy am I glad. Special K was, well, pretty special.

I was really beginning to wonder if ballet is really her thing. She spent the first 15 minutes of class looking utterly bored to tears.

Suddenly she spied I had the camera out. She really began to perk up. I have dozens of photos of this particular cheesy grin.

I'm not quite sure what she's doing here. No one else struck this pose. She does look pretty dramatic.

Here's some more cheese, with a little bit of pirate mixed in.

Wrapped up with one final dramatic bow. The end.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baby Gianna: Part IV

Keeping Catholic hospitals Catholic from the folks at Creative Minority Report. Print Friendly and PDF


Three year old announcing loudly to his siblings, "No dessert on ashes day!" Print Friendly and PDF

Small Successes: Always Forward

Small Successes for February 18, 2010:

1) I stayed on top of the laundry this week. Everything is even folded and put away!

2) After a little mix up yesterday morning (I thought our parish had a 10 am Mass for Ash Wednesday), I packed up the kids and drove the 26 miles to the National Shrine for their 12:10 Mass. Over the years I've come to realize if I miss Ash Wednesday, I have a very difficult time getting into Lent. It was a beautiful Mass. I am so glad we made it and now I feel mentally and spiritually ready for this Lenten Season.

3) I created and filled in grade sheets for my two high schoolers' 2nd quarter, which ended the first week in February. Finding, grading, dating, and organizing an entire quarter's work for two students took a good chunk of my Sunday evening. Hopefully I'll be a little more proactive the rest of the year and fill in their grade sheets on a more regular basis. Procrastinating really is a pain!

Come share your successes at Faith and Family Live.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Baby Gianna's Story: Part III

Baby Gianna's beautiful eulogy. Stay tuned for the rest of the story from Creative Minority Report. Print Friendly and PDF

What to Do for Lent

Tomorrow marks the beginning of another Lenten season. I always look forward to Lent and make grandiose spiritual plans every year that inevitably end up in disappointment. I suppose I expect to make some miraculous change in myself and that all my faults will suddenly disappear if I just make a good enough and holy enough Lent. It never happens. I've been wracking my brain over what practice I shall adopt this year. That, right there, is the problem. I'm wracking my brain and not praying.

This morning I visited Mary's wonderful blog, Cheerios Do Fly!!! and read her quote of the day. A little light shone on my difficulty. You'll never guess what my stumbling block is. . . PRIDE. Isn't that a sin we all struggle with? Here is just a portion of the quote Mary posted:

"Don't give in to discouragement. If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. " --Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Nothing could be truer of myself.

Lord, teach me to be humble and to put my trust more fully in you. Amen.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Baby Gianna: Part II

The second installment of a week long series from the folks at Creative Minority Report. Print Friendly and PDF


Having children spanning the ages of 17 and 3, I am sometimes struck by little oddities. This morning, our oldest son shaved for the very first time, while our youngest son dressed himself for the very first time. I am aware this really isn't all that unusual, but I found it just a bit funny. Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Following this Story

Creative Minority Report is asking their devotees to follow this storyline closely this week. I'll be showing my support for the Baby Gianna story here. Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sacred Hymns Winners

And the winners are: Helen, Paul & Annie, and Mary@Cherrios

Congratulations! I have ordered three copies of L'Angelus' Sacred Hymns Collection and they are due to arrive at my house on March 2nd--a bit later than I had hoped. If your name is listed please contact me at: mamamayerle at mac dot com, with your mailing address. My hope is to get your cd to you before the beginning of Holy Week, if not sooner.

Thanks everyone for entering!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Giveaway Reminder

The L'Angelus Sacred Hymns Collection giveaway ends today at noon. Don't forget to leave a comment here, or in the original post for your chance to win. Check back here tomorrow for a list of winners. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Small Successes: Small but Steady Progress

Since my last post for Small Successes, we've been among the millions of witnesses of the double whammy blizzard of 2010. Beside digging out from beneath the nearly 3 feet of snow, I have managed to tackle a few other tasks around here.

1) If you fly with the FlyLady, we are in the kitchen this week. I've been scrubbing down the counters, wiping down walls, and spot cleaning the cupboards. My lovely Pasquini espresso maker and coffee grinder each got special treatment and a nice shine.

2) I've done a lot of baking this week, molasses cookies, cinnamon swirl bread, corn bread, and oatmeal cookies. Hopefully we'll be able to get out of this house pretty soon, or I'm going to put on some serious pounds!

3) While snowed in, it can be a real temptation to resort to TV, movies, and computer games. We have indulged a bit, but I think the activity our kids might remember best from this storm are the nights when we've turned off all the lights and played flash light hide and seek. I borrowed the idea from Matthew Archbold of Creative Minority Report. We have all had so much fun playing this game, even the teenagers have excitedly looked for darkness to fall.

Post your Small Successes link at Faith and Family Live.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Laundry Issues

see more Epic Fails

My dear loving husband,

I so very much appreciate the fact that you are willing to help me out with the wash, but please, please, please do not do my laundry with yours. Really, my whites should not be washed alongside your stinky, sweaty, dark colored, work out clothes. I promise to be more diligent about matching your socks properly, just please do not wash my laundry ever again. I love you. You are awesome, just not so awesome at sorting dirty clothes.

Your loving wife,
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Karate Kid Enters Her Last Year of Childhood

Happy Birthday to our beautiful, brilliant, baby girl! We can't believe 17 years have already passed. 17 years of wonderful memories. 17 years of giggles. 17 years of smiles. 17 years of absolute wonder. 17 years of joy. The world has so much to offer and you have so much to give. We cannot wait to see what is in store for you. May God continue to bless you, protect you, and guide you.

Mama and Daddy
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Sacred Music Giveaway

Just in time for Lent, I'm giving away three copies a lovely cd of sacred music performed by the talented Louisiana based L'Angelus. Take a listen here.

We received their Christmas cd as a gift this year, and Lil' Wingnut insisted on listening to it every night as he was going to sleep, especially "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." I put the Christmas cd away with all the other Christmas paraphernalia after The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, much to the disappointment of Lil' Wingnut. Thankfully, I had ordered a copy of L'Angelus' Sacred Hymns Collection and have it playing in the van on our many outings during the week. Upon hearing it for the first time, Lil' Wingnut immediately piped up, "They're singing about Jesus!" He's thrilled, to say the least.

To qualify for this give away, just leave a comment expressing your desire to enter. Entries will be accepted until Friday, February 12th, at noon. Winners will be announced on this blog later that day.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Touching Scenes on TV

Did you see the season premiere of 19 Kids and Counting? I'm not a regular viewer, but occasionally I have followed the story of this growing family over the years. The Duggars are a lovely, devoted, and faith-filled family and while others may find their very large family an oddity, I think they are inspirational.

Due to complications during her latest pregnancy, Michelle delivered their youngest daughter 15 weeks early via c-section in December. Little Josie Duggar weighed just over 1 pound and faces an up hill battle, but so far so good. The longer this little girl hangs in there the better her chances of survival.

I managed to tune in on Monday night to see the delivery of Josie and the first visit of her 18 siblings. While parents Jim Bob and Michelle did their best to prepare their children for what to expect, the reaction of their older children was incredibly moving. As they surrounded Josie's incubator to gaze upon this new fragile life many of the Duggar children were reduced to tears. You could see they were in complete shock, and yet beyond the shock you could see the absolute outpouring of love for their new little sister. 18 children and yet there is room in their hearts for one more. It was touching and beautiful. Wouldn't it be a blessing if every child conceived in the womb were welcomed into a world where there was love enough for one more? The Duggar family is an admirable and beautiful example of what it truly means to be pro-life, and that more abundantly.
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Small Successes: Awesome!

For anyone visiting this link for the first time, let me tell you this is not how I usually roll. I don't want anyone to get discouraged and think I am always this motivated. You know how every once in a while you get a bee in your bonnet and just really get down and dirty and clean like a maniac? Well, the combination of a "snow day" and a bee in my bonnet is responsible for the shear amount of work I accomplished this week.

1) I really concentrated on dust and fingerprints in our entryway, living room, and dining room. I took down all the drapes and dry cleaned them in the dryer to remove all the dust (I love dryell). I used Murphy's Oil on all the wood furniture to give it all a good polishing. I washed the inside of all the windows (why do the children insist on licking the windows? Gross!). I wiped down walls and lintels, and I dusted all the artwork, portraits, and knick-knacks. That was a work out!

2) I went through and cleaned out the little girls room. What a disaster! They had trash stuffed in every crack and crevasse. You would not believe the number of missing socks I found under the bed! I need to do a better job keeping on top of those two. That room gets so out of control that I think they just don't know where to begin when they are told to clean it.

3) We officially have another licensed driver in our house. Ok, not my success, but it sure is going to be nice to have another taxi driver around here.

Big or small, post your small successes for the week over at Faith and Family Live!
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finally . . .

. . . a snow day I can appreciate! Until today, all of our snow has fallen on the weekend. Yes, a few weekend plans were cancelled, but there is nothing like a snow day during the week! When county schools close, all of our children's activities are cancelled. Today, there is no ballet, no taekwando, no dentist appointments. We are staying home! Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful blanket of snow. We are going to relax and enjoy this much needed rest from the flurry of occupations that normally fill our time! Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If You Ever Need a Good Cry. . .

. . . you should just check out this blog, written by a Catholic homeschool blogger who calls herself "the Mom". She has a wonderful quality to her writing which manages to take every day, ordinary experiences to a certain level of emotionality that leaves many of her readers in tears. Tears of joy, tears of sorrow, tears of frustration, tears of thanksgiving; she brings it all out. Want a good cry, but don't want to read "Love You Forever"? Try reading this post, or this post, or this, or any number of posts in her archives. If you don't leak a single tear after reading those three posts, you can't possibly be human! Even her non-emotional writings are worth a read. While you're at it, read her explanation for the title of her blog: Shoved to Them. The Mom needs to write a book. She's that good. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not Cool!

Have you ever read this book to your kids? My cousin gave it to me as a gift when our oldest was born. I could not read it without crying, let alone read it aloud to her. Over the years I'd try and desensitize myself to the stupid book, but I'd always get to the end and get all choked up and cry like a big wimp. Karate Kid and Stat Boy would bring the book to me with evil little smirks on their faces when they were around 5 and 3 years old. They didn't want to hear me read that book so much as much as they wanted to see me cry. Once the sniffles began, they'd begin snickering, the little imps. Eventually I just hid the book.

Some evil child has put this rotten book into Lil' Wingnut's book box. He wanted me to read it to him. It's been years. I thought I could do it. I was doing just great, and then I came to the very last:

I love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be

I began sniffling and choking up. Lil' Wingnut found my tears quite humorous. I should just burn it. I just can't take the humiliation any longer.
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